The first stage of the turquoise-green Corona plan brings new tightening. It comes into force today, Wednesday. The benchmark value on which the first stage is based had already been reached on Tuesday: 200 Covid patients were cared for in intensive care units across Austria.
What applies from the first level?
The ordinance, which sets out the new corona rules, was presented by the health department on Monday evening. As of Wednesday, as in Vienna, antigen tests are only valid for 24 hours. PCR tests are still valid for 72 hours – except in Vienna, here it is 48 hours.
Schoolchildren are not affected. The school tests three times a week, which are entered in the “ninja pass” and also allow them access to facilities other than the school, are sufficient for them. The 3G rule (vaccinated, recovered or tested) will apply from Wednesday to events from 25 people, up to now it has been 100 people. The ordinance brings the most far-reaching tightening of the mask requirement.
Where should a mask be worn?
An FFP2 mask is required in public transport and in shops for everyday needs such as supermarkets. So far, mouth and nose protection was sufficient. This FFP2 obligation applies to vaccinated, convalescent and unvaccinated people.
An FFP2 obligation for all persons also applies from Wednesday to church services, as the Bishops’ Conference announced. For church celebrations such as weddings, the mask requirement can be omitted if a 3G rule is agreed and adhered to for all guests.
A distinction is made in other areas and institutions. In retail that does not serve daily needs, such as in fashion stores, only those who have not been vaccinated have to wear an FFP2 mask. This is only recommended for vaccinated people. In Vienna, even vaccinated people have to wear a mask in shops with non-daily needs, but mouth and nose protection is sufficient for them.
The ordinance also brought a rule that was not announced: Unvaccinated people must also wear an FFP2 mask in cultural institutions. At first it was unclear which places were meant. The health department specified: This includes museums, art halls, libraries, libraries and archives. At concerts, in the theater and cinema, however, the FFP2 mask requirement does not apply to unvaccinated persons with valid 3G proof. The exception is again Vienna: Here, mouth and nose protection must be worn by all guests in all cultural institutions.
Who controls the mask requirement?
Originally it was said that the police would carry out checks in shops. The government had “clearly communicated that it is not the individual retailers who have to check the customer’s mask requirement, but that the police will carry out spot checks”, stated Economics Minister Margarete Schramböck (ÖVP) last week.
The regulation no longer mentions an inspection by the police. In the explanations it is now stated that during the control by the company, its obligations should “not be overstretched”. It is dependent on “numerous factors” – such as the number of customers and the “number of customers present”. It could “include signs, announcements and other information measures as well as random checks, the circulation of information material and the voluntary provision of masks”.
The trade association sees a “general legal uncertainty”. “According to the Covid-19 Measures Act, penalties of up to 3,600 euros are provided if the dealers do not comply with their due diligence,” said Rainer Will, managing director of the trade association. Schramböck’s announcement was “misinformation”. Schramböck called on the association to “stop spreading these untruths”. It is clearly regulated “that there is an option for trading”.
Are there any further tightenings?
The turquoise-green plan provides for two more stages. Stage two should come into effect seven days after 300 intensive care beds have been occupied by corona patients. Stage three follows with 400 occupied corona intensive care beds. However, stages two and three are not dealt with in the ordinance. What is certain, however, is that the individual federal states, such as Vienna, can issue more restrictive rules.
An end to the free corona tests for unvaccinated people is currently up for debate. Community Association President Alfred Riedl (ÖVP) spoke out in favor of a test fee for unvaccinated people – via an electronic prescription with which you can receive the test in the pharmacy and pay the prescription fee (6.50 euros) for it.
How are schools doing?
In Vienna, classes were quarantined at 285 schools one week after the start of school. Now the rules are being relaxed. What is certain is that students can test themselves out of quarantine after five days instead of the previous ten days using a PCR test. At elementary schools, as before, there is only one case of infection in the class without quarantine of classmates. According to a decree of the Ministry of Health, only those who sit next to them and “close contacts” should be quarantined for older students. If two or more students are infected within 14 days or one adult in the class, the health authorities must decide whether parts or the entire class should be segregated. This regulation remains in effect.
Church only with FFP2
For Catholic church services, FFP2 masks are again mandatory from tomorrow, Wednesday. This emerges from a framework regulation of the bishops’ conference published on Tuesday, as reported by Kathpress. There is no minimum distance to be observed, and there are no restrictions on congregational singing. In the case of “celebrations for one-off occasions” such as baptisms, first communions, confirmations and weddings, the mask requirement can be replaced by the 3G rule by agreement.
The reason for the mask requirement is the fact that the 3G rule does not apply to church services. Excluded from the mask requirement are children up to the age of six and people who, with medical confirmation, cannot wear an MNS for health reasons. Pregnant women and children from six to 14 are allowed to wear an MNS instead of the FFP2 mask, it said. There is no obligation to wear a mask for church services in the open air.